Climate Report Details Flood Risk to Sites in Washington

newyork-under-waterWASHINGTON — The nation’s capital is likely to see record flooding by 2050, putting about $7 billion worth of property, three military bases and parts of the National Mall at risk as a result of climate change that is raising sea levels all over the world, according to a report released Tuesday by the research group Climate Central.

That is one of the group’s more conservative estimates in a report titled “Washington, D.C., and the Surging Sea.”

In the worst case, the group draws an end-of-the-century picture of the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials as islands in a flooded Potomac River, and Fort McNair, the Washington Navy Yard and parts of Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling completely under water.

Scientists’ warnings about the effects of climate change are not new, with predictions that melting polar ice will lead to a rise in sea levels that will lap around the edges of New York, turn Houston into a latter-day Venice and force millions of residents in low-lying nations like Bangladesh out of their homes.

Read the full New York Times article here.


PICS CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH SFU UBC LECTURE SERIES – Adapting to Climate Change: Global Knowledge, Local Action


When: September 23, 2014 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Where: UBC Robson Square, Room C180, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver

Register: climatechangeadaptation.eventbrite.ca

Live Web Stream: pics.uvic.ca/events/live-webcast

Join moderator Tim Takaro, Faculty of Health Sciences, SFU, and speakers Stewart Cohen, Environment Canada, Lori Daniels, Faculty of Forestry, UBC and Jonathan O’Riordan, former Deputy Minister and now advisor with SFU’s ACT, as they share perspectives on climate change impacts and adaptation.

Stewart Cohen is coauthor of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Working Group II report, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability.” He’ll offer an overview of the report, including future risks for North America: extreme heat events, wildfires and urban flooding.

Lori Daniels will present on BC’s increasing and intensifying wildfires and the adaptation strategies we’ll need to learn to live with them, while Jon O’Riordan offers insight into the future Nexus – our life supporting water, energy, food and ecosystems in a changing climate – and the transformative policies and technologies we’ll need to manage and adapt. After their presentations, Tim Takaro will moderate questions and answers amongst the audience and panelists.

Stewart J. Cohen is senior researcher with the Climate Research Division of Environment Canada, and an Adjunct Professor with the Department of Forest Resources Management, at the University of British Columbia. His research interests are in developing participatory approaches for climate change adaptation through shared learning between researchers and practitioners. Since 1992, Dr. Cohen has contributed to publications of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. For the IPCC 5th Assessment Report, Dr. Cohen is a member of the author team of the chapter “Foundations for Decision Making” and is also a member of the core writing team for the Summary for Policymakers, which was approved by governments in March 2014.

Lori Daniels is an Associate Professor of Forest Ecology in the Forest and Conservation Sciences Department at UBC-Vancouver, where she directs the Tree-Ring Lab at UBC.  Her degrees are in Ecology (BSc, UManitoba), Forest Ecology (MSc UBC) and Biogeography (PhD UColorado-Boulder).  Her research, published in the journals Science, Climatic Change, Ecology and International Journal of Wildland Fire, applies tree-ring analyses to investigate disturbance regimes and the impacts of climate and humans on forest dynamics. Given her interests in conservation and sustainable resource management, much of her research has practical application and is collaborative with NGOs, government agencies and private companies. She serves as a member of BC’s Prescribed Fire Council. With her graduate students, Lori has on-going research on fire regimes and forest resilience to climate change in the interior of British Columbia, Rocky Mountain National Parks and foothills of Alberta.

Jon O’Riordan is a former Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management in the British Columbia Provincial Government. He has completed 35 years in the public service, mainly with the Provincial Government, in environmental management and land and resource planning. He is an Adjunct Professor with the School of Community ad Regional Planning at UBC and Research Director with the Climate Adaptation Team centred at Simon Fraser University. Dr. O’Riordan joined POLIS’ Water Sustainability Project in the Centre for Global Studies at the University of British Columbia as a strategic water policy advisor in 2007, where he focuses on provincial water policy reform and the ecological governance of water management.

Tim Takaro is a physician-scientist and Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University. He was trained in occupational and environmental medicine, public health and toxicology, at Yale, the University of North Carolina and University of Washington. Dr. Takaro’s research is primarily about the links between human exposures and disease, and determining effective public health based preventive solutions to such risks. Current research on human health and climate change focuses on water quality, extreme weather events and gastro-intestinal illness in BC communities and building and mapping watershed vulnerability and resilience in rural Nicaragua. He is Canadian co-chair of the Health Professionals Advisory Board to the International Joint Commission on border waters, Program Committee member for the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, chair of the Climate Change Health Policy Group in BC and contributor to the PCIC Plan2Adapt health module.

We hope that you can make it, either in person or by accessing our webcast.

Nastenka Calle
SFU Program Coordinator, PICS
n_calle@sfu.ca | www.sfu.ca/climatechange | www.PICS.uvic.ca

Sara Muir-Owen
UBC Program Coordinator, PICS
sara.muir-owen@ubc.ca | www.sustain.ubc.ca/pics |  www.PICS.uvic.ca



Public Reading at Chapters on Robson – BeeTime: Lessons From the Hive by Mark Winston

Public reading and signing by the author of a new book entitled BeeTime: Lessons From the Hive, Mark Winston, co-founder of ACT.

Where: Chapters bookstore on Robson in Vancouver  (http://winstonhive.com/?page_id=164)

When: Thursday 9 October at 7:00 PM.

The book covers the myriad lessons we can learn from honeybees and wild bees, lessons that are particularly vital to us today as the threats causing the demise of bees pose similar challenges to us. This event will be of great interest to beekeepers, environmentalists, gardeners, farmers, urban planners and others interested in the natural history of these fascinating creatures.

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Thursday, October 9th at 7:00pm
Chapters on Robson Street

Join Mark Winston – Fellow in the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University and Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences – as he signs his new book Bee Time: Lessons from the Hive and speaks on how bees affect environmental issues, collaboration and communication, urban design, spirituality, and more.

Proof of purchase is required from a Chapters, Indigo or Coles location.


The world’s biggest ever hackathon against climate change is THIS WEEKEND

The world’s biggest ever hackathon against climate change is THIS WEEKEND and we need your help in Victoria (and around the world) to make it as big a success as possible!

Our objective is to unite all the world’s software engineers, product designers and technology innovators who care about climate change to come together and make a difference.

How do we do that? Well, we’ve recently confirmed the UN Climate Summit and UNFCCC as official global partners, joining WWF, Fauna & Flora International, Save the Children, 350.org, WeForest, Lead International, King Tides Project, the World Resources Institute, and dozens more non-profits and government challenge partners in 46 cities all around the world – they are all submitting problem statements and ideas that represent real-world climate challenges.

 This sets us up to make a huge real-world impact with what we build at #hack4good. Now we just need all of the best developers, designers and innovators to join!

I need you to help make this happen in Victoria, and around BC! (Details about the FREE Victoria event are here)

Take these 5 simple steps:

  1. Join the hackathon at http://hack4good.io/
  2. Join the Thunderclap at http://thndr.it/1veBlJb (and share that you’ve joined!)
  3. Join the Facebook community to get all the latest news and updates (and share and re-share everything you like!)
  4. Personally invite your friends and contacts to attend (here’s an email template)
  5. Ask existing developer networks – email lists, meetup groups, tech spaces, co-working spaces, tech companies to help us promote via email and putting up posters

Let’s make sure every developer in Victoria and worldwide has heard about Geeklist #hack4good!

 This event is made possible by Rackspace and JustGiving, as well as incredible venue partners all around the world,global challenge partners, our amazing judging panel, and of course all of you who are working hard, rallying together every connection you have and uniting tech communities globally. Thank you!


Thanks for your support and looking forward to hacking with you this 12-14 September and making a huge impact on global climate change!


– Dan Cunningham

  Head of Geeklist Corps of Developers


P.S. Please forward this email on to anyone else who you think can help!


P.P.S. Check out #hack4good on Twitter to get a sense of the amazing global activity!


Dan Cunningham

Head of Geeklist Corps of Developers

djcunning on skype


Creating a Blueprint for Watershed Governance Webinar Series

On September 17th, the POLIS Water Sustainability Project is hosting the first webinar in its 2014/2015 Creating a Blue Dialogue webinar series. Register now!

WHAT: A Blueprint for Watershed Governance in British Columbia
DATE: Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
TIME: 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. PT (12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. ET)

In this webinar, Oliver M. Brandes (Co-Director, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance) and Jon O’Riordan (Strategic Advisor, POLIS Project on Ecological Governance; Former Deputy Minister, B.C. Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management, and  ACT’s senior policy adviser) will explore current water and watershed governance issues in British Columbia. The focus will be on some of the “winning conditions” needed to move towards a more sophisticated approach to watershed governance in B.C. This discussion on the evolving state of watershed governance will be relevant across Canada, but will be grounded in the context of changes in B.C., including the introduction of B.C.’s new Water Sustainability Act.

The session will close with a broader discussion of the emerging priority issues and potential next steps as jurisdictions across Canada seek to achieve the goal of enhanced watershed management and better governance of their home waters.

**SPACE IS LIMITED** Register now!

Laura Brandes, B.Sc.(H)
Communications Director
POLIS Project on Ecological Governance, Water Sustainability Project
University of Victoria


Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation

CC leadership

  • September 18, 2014 from 2:00pm-3:00pm ET –Synthesis (presented by Fiona Warren, Natural Resources Canada) andAdaptation: Linking Research and Practice(presented by Jimena Eyzaguirre, ESSA Technologies Ltd.). This webinar is being co-hosted with the Climate Change Adaptation Community of Practice (CCACoP).
  • October 2, 2014 from 1:30pm-2:30pm ET –Overview of Canada’s Changing Climate(presented by Elizabeth Bush, Environment Canada)
  • October 16, 2014 from 1:30pm-2:30pm ET –Natural Resources(presented by Don Lemmen, Natural Resources Canada) andIndustry (Jason Thistlethwaite, University of Waterloo)
  • October 30, 2014 from 1:30pm-3:00pm ET –Food Production(presented by Ian D. Campbell, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Kim Hyatt, Fisheries and Oceans Canada) andBiodiversity and Protected Areas(presented by Patrick Nantel, Parks Canada)
  • November 13, 2014 from 1:30pm-3:00pm ET –Human Health (presented by Peter Berry, Health Canada) and Water and Transportation Infrastructure (presented by Jean Andrey, University of Waterloo and Pam Kertland, Natural Resources Canada)
For more information on NRCan’s webinar series, email Adaptation@NRCan.gc.ca

NRCan Adaptation Platform webinar: Managing Climate Change along Canada’s Coasts

english bay storm surge

NRCan’s Adaptation Platform is pleased to offer the following webinar! Please see the attached poster and feel free to share this invitation with your networks and friends.

Managing Climate Change along Canada’s Coasts

When: Tuesday, September 9, 2014 from 1:30-3:00pm – Eastern Time (ET)

This webinar will include 3 presentations:
  • Best Practices to Address Climate Change for Water Infrastructure in Highway Management in British Columbia (B.C.) presented by Dirk Nyland, B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure
  • Greening Shorelines to Enhance Resilience: an Evaluation of Approaches for Adaptation to Sea Level Rise presented by DG Blair, Stewardship Centre for B.C.
  • Assessment of the Risk to Prince Edward Island’s (P.E.I.’s) Coastal Residences, Infrastructure and Heritage from a Changing Climatepresented by Adam Fenech, University of P.E.I.

Register for this webinar!


Also, stay tuned for future NRCan Adaptation Platform webinars:

  • Managing Climate Change Information for Adaptation – Wednesday, October 8, 2014 from 1:30-3:00 pm ET.
  • Policy Barriers and Drivers for Managing Climate Change on Canada’s Coasts –Tuesday, November 4, 2014 from 1:30-3:00pm ET.
  • Canada in a Changing Climate: Sector Perspectives on Impacts and Adaptation – A series of 5 Webinars on the recently released science assessment, September through November, commencing September 18, 2014 from 1:30-3:00pm ET
For information on the Adaptation Platform webinars, email Adaptation@NRCan.gc.ca
For more information on adaptation in Canada, visit Adaptation.NRCan.gc.ca
*** Please feel free to forward this invitation to your networks ***

ICLR is hosting Free Webinars on Flood Issues

On September 10 Slobodan Simonovic will lead a webinar about a tool he has developed with his team for adjusting IDF curves for the effects of change in the climate. (For details contact Dan Sandink at dsandink@iclr.org.)


On September 19 Cathryn Ryan of the University of Calgary will lead a Friday Forum workshop and webinar to discuss the impact of ground water in the 2013 flooding in Calgary. (To attend in the ICLR Toronto office or join by webinar contact Tracy Waddington at twaddington@iclr.org.)

On October 10 Tim Mereau of MMM will lead a Friday Forum workshop and webinar to present the findings of the flood mapping research circulated by Gordon. (To attend contact Tracy Waddington at twaddington@iclr.org.)



Rising sea levels in Metro Vancouver spark open competition: Innovative solutions sought as one-metre rise around Vancouver predicted by 2100

10063811A sandbag dike holds back the water from the Fraser River in Chilliwack, B.C., on June 28, 2012.    Photograph by: JONATHAN HAYWARD , THE CANADIAN PRESS

SFU Public Square is looking for innovative ideas on how to combat a predicted one-metre rise in sea levels around Metro Vancouver due to climate change.

This fall, the university will launch a RISE ideas competition, which is expected to raise awareness and dialogue on the issue of sea levels across the region and ensure Metro Vancouver can “adapt and thrive in the face of this environmental challenge,” according to a statement.

The competition, which will be open to 50 teams, will be part of a third-annual Community Summit hosted by SFU Public Square.

“Metro Vancouver is a fast-growing region with rapidly expanding population, housing and employment density,” the statement said. “However, climate change science predicts the ocean that surrounds our communities will rise in Metro Vancouver by at least one metre by 2100. This puts housing, business, transportation, and ecosystems at major risk.”

The competition follows several recent studies which suggest that by the end of this century, a 50-year flood could be similar in magnitude to floods that had once occurred only every 200 to 500 years.

A coalition of senior levels of government, along with 25 municipalities, two regional districts and the Fraser Basin Council, announced this week they would join together to develop an integrated flood plan from Hope to Richmond, recognizing that the Lower Mainland is highly vulnerable to river and coastal flooding..

The SFU Public Square competition, which is free to enter, will see teams submit their ideas online and pitch them in person to a panel of judges. The public will be able to engage with the ideas through the competition website. At a daylong expo of ideas, “Most Popular” voting will be ongoing, and team pitches will occur. All final-round teams will be invited to attend SFU Public Square’s large-scale public event at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

To register interest in the competition, go to sfu.ca/rise.


The above article was published in the Vancouver Sun, July 25, 2014.



Job Posting: Water Law and Policy Researcher/Coordinator

Position: Water Law and Policy Researcher/Coordinator

Organization: POLIS Water Sustainability Project, University of Victoria
Closing Date: August 4th, 2014
Job Type: Full-time position (12 months) with possibility of renewal
Location: Victoria, British Columbia (non-negotiable)
Start Date: August 18th or 25th, 2014

The Opportunity

The POLIS Water Sustainability Project has been working for the past decade to develop critical foundational research on water sustainability, with a particular focus on governance and water law in the context of policy reform. By demonstrating the powerful potential of new approaches, new perspectives, and innovation, we work to develop a clear model for ecosystem-based water management and governance in Canada—a model based on conservation, stewardship, and sustainability. Over the past six years, our research has had a strong emphasis on British Columbia due to provincial efforts to implement the Living Water Smart plan and pass the new Water Sustainability Act.

We currently have an opportunity for a researcher/coordinator to join our team and play a key role in developing and disseminating innovative research on water policy and law reform.

Reporting to the Co-Director and the Communications Director, the Researcher/Coordinator will be responsible for organizing and coordinating B.C. groups working on watershed governance; conducting focused research on water policy and law reform options and opportunities; and supporting the development and implementation of the regulations associated with new B.C. Water Sustainability Act.

How to Apply

Download the complete job posting, which outlines the required qualifications/experience and has full instructions on how to apply. Applications should be submitted no later than August 4th, 2014. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for interviews. No phone calls please.


First Nations Fisheries Council Also Hiring

Our partners at the First Nations Fisheries Council are also hiring for two positions. They are seeking motivated and passionate individuals to become their new Water Project Manager and Fisheries Project Manager, based at the FNFC office in West Vancouver. The deadline for applying for these two positions isJuly 31st, 2014.


Professional Leadership in a Changing Climate: Joint Statement

CC leadership

The Association of BC Forest Professionals, the Association of Professional Biology, the College of Applied Biology, and the Planning Institute of British Columbia recently issued a joint statement on professional responsibility and action in a changing climate.

The Preamble reads:

Professionals are required to use the best available science in making our decisions, and so we, the resource and planning professional associations of British Columbia, recognize that climate change is occurring and it has fundamental impacts on British Columbia’s communities and ecosystems. We know the importance of both reducing the presence of greenhouse gases in the global atmosphere (climate change mitigation) and in adapting our society and ecosystems to prepare for climatic changes (climate change adaptation).

Our members have crucial roles to play in both climate change mitigation and adaptation; their knowledge, expertise and professionalism are key parts of the solution. But they also have important professional and ethical responsibilities related to the changing climate. Professional associations have an obligation to define those responsibilities and to provide the training and structures that will allow members to meet their responsibilities to their clients and to the public.

Read the full statement here.

Image credit: John McConnico/Associated Press



Webinar: Climate-Smart Approach to Adaptive Management – Aug. 7th

When: August 7, 2014

Reserve your Webinar seat now at:



A Climate-Smart Approach to Adaptive Management of North-Central California Coast and Ocean Habitats, Species, and Ecosystem Services by  Sara Hutto  of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

The Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary’s Climate-Smart Adaptation Project for the North-Central California Coast and Ocean will produce a comprehensive and prioritized adaptation implementation plan based on climate-smart principles. A climate-smart approach seeks nature-based solutions to reduce climate change impacts on wildlife and people, and enhance resilience to sustain vibrant, diverse ecosystems. Phase 1 of the project consists of a 2-part workshop series that engages scientists and resource managers to identify focal species, habitats, and ecosystem services and develop vulnerability assessments for these focal resources. Phase 2 uses this information to define plausible climate scenarios for the region and develop and prioritize adaptive management recommendations, with special focus on living shoreline projects, through a working group of local stakeholders. After evaluating these recommendations, the sanctuary will develop a detailed implementation plan and design pilot living shoreline projects with the goal of proactively sustaining diverse ecosystems through nature-based solutions. This webinar will discuss this work and applications for MPAs worldwide.

This webinar is co-sponsored by the NOAA National Marine Protected Areas Center, OpenChannels.org, MPA News, EcoAdapt, and the EBM Tools Network.

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer

Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet


Report: Climate changing more rapidly than at any point on record

glacial retreatGoing, going … As a whole, the world’s glaciers—such as Italy’s Careser Glacier, seen here in August 1933 (top) and August 2012 (bottom)—have lost ice for the last 23 years in a row. IMAGES: COURTESY OF LUCA CARTURAN/UNIVERSITY OF PADOVA

A new look at the “vital signs” of Earth’s climate reveals a stark picture of declining health. As global temperatures rise, so do sea level and the amount of heat trapped in the ocean’s upper layers. Meanwhile, mountain glaciers and Arctic sea ice are melting away beneath an atmosphere where concentrations of three key planet-warming greenhouse gases continue to rise.

“Data show that the climate is changing more rapidly now than it has at any time in the historical record,” says Thomas Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, North Carolina. “The numbers speak for themselves.”

The numbers speak pretty loudly, too. Depending on which data set scientists look at, 2013 falls somewhere between the second warmest and sixth warmest year since record keeping began in 1880. Global sea level reached a new record high last year—about 3.8 centimeters (1.5 inches) above the average measured by satellites between 1993 and 2010. Overall, sea level is rising about 3 millimeters (one-eighth of an inch) each year. And for the 23rd straight year, mountain glaciers on the whole lost more ice than they gained, says Jessica Blunden of ERT Inc., who works with Karl at the climate monitoring agency in Asheville. “Changes in these [glaciers] are visible and obvious signs of climate change,” Blunden says.

The new study, State of the Climate in 2013, was released online today in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. The detailed, peer-reviewed analysis was based on data from environmental monitoring stations on land, sea, and ice and from sensors on satellites and planes. More than 400 scientists from 57 countries contributed to the report. (Previous State of the Climate reports, issued annually since 1991, can be found here.)

Continue reading the article by Sid Perkins here.



The White House Press Release: Taking Action to Prepare Communities for Climate Change Impacts

White House PressFACT SHEET: Taking Action to Support State, Local, and Tribal Leaders as They Prepare Communities for the Impacts of Climate Change

President Obama is focused every day on building on the progress America’s economy is making by creating jobs and expanding opportunity for all hardworking Americans.  As part of that effort, the President has put forward a comprehensive plan to invest in America’s infrastructure in order to create jobs, provide certainty to states and communities, support American businesses, and grow our economy. Investing in infrastructure has never been more important. In addition to the clear economic benefits of building a world-class infrastructure system, the third National Climate Assessment released earlier this year confirms that the impacts of climate change are already taking a toll on communities. To support communities in need of a more resilient infrastructure that can withstand impacts like more extreme weather and increased flooding, President Obama is responding to guidance from governors, mayors, county and tribal officials who are proven leaders in helping their communities prepare for climate impacts.

The President established the State, Local, and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience last November to advise him on how the Federal government can best respond to the needs of communities nationwide already dealing with the impacts of climate change. The Task Force, made up of 26 officials from across the country, is holding its fourth and final meeting in Washington, D.C. today. They will provide their final recommendations to the President in the fall.

Today the President is announcing a series of actions to respond to the Task Force’s early feedback to help state, local, and tribal leaders prepare their communities for the impacts of climate change by developing more resilient infrastructure and rebuilding existing infrastructure stronger and smarter.

Continue reading here for the list of actions.



What do these PMs know that economists don’t?


Globe&Mail Munir SheikhStatscan’s former chief statistician Munir Sheikh is pictured at his office in Ottawa on Tuesday July 29, 2008. (Sean Kilpatrick/Sean Kilpatrick/The Globe and Mail).

Munir A. Sheikh is executive fellow at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, and a former chief statistician of Canada.

The following article was published in THE GLOBE AND MAIL.

During Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s recent visit to Canada, Prime Minister Stephen Harper commented on climate change: “No matter what they say, no country is going to take actions that are going to deliberately destroy jobs and growth in their country. We are just a little more frank about that.” Mr. Abbott, having abolished Australia’s carbon tax, added: “I’ve always been against a carbon tax or an emissions trading scheme because it harms our economy without necessarily helping the environment.”

In 1920, the great economist Arthur Cecil Pigou argued that when an economic activity creates external disservice (such as pollution), a properly designed tax improves, not worsens, resource allocation and makes an economy better. Perhaps the two prime ministers know of empirical evidence that economists have ignored.

I’ve examined the performance of a number of countries that are known to rely heavily on environmental taxes: Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands. I also looked at the average performance of the OECD area (a collection of 34 developed countries), the United States and Canada. To evaluate performance, I looked at the following:

  • A number of environmental indicators that include the share of environmental taxes in total taxes, the environmental taxes to GDP ratio, the energy and materials intensity of production and consumption, and the growth of greenhouse gasses over the period from 1990 to 2012;
  • Two economic variables, the level of per capita GDP as an indicator of the current standard of living and labour productivity growth over time, as an indicator of potential growth in living standards in the future. I also included income distribution across income groups using the Gini coefficient, which captures income inequality.

In total, I have eight indicators and seven jurisdictions. This is what I found, using standardized data from the OECD.

Canada’s reliance on environmental taxes is the lowest among the group, along with the United States. On average, OECD countries rely significantly more on environmental taxes than Canada does. Each of the four European countries in our sample has carbon taxes, as do a number of others in the OECD. Given this, one would expect that Canada would use energy resources and materials much more heavily than others in production and consumption activities, and that is indeed the case. Canada’s performance in curbing GHG emissions is the worst in this group.

We find as well that the performance of the countries with high environmental taxes, while the best in our sample for environmental outcomes, is better as well for both economic and social outcomes than Canada’s. On GDP per capita, Canada is above average, with Norway at the top. On labour productivity growth, Canada is the second worst, with Sweden and Norway at the top. On income inequality, Canada and the United States are at the bottom, while Denmark and Norway are at the top.

The picture that seems to emerge is that Canada is not doing well in relation to any of the six jurisdictions for environmental, economic or social outcomes. To get a better overall picture, I added the rankings on the eight indicators: With seven countries, the worst possible score would be 56, if a country were at the bottom for each of the indicators. The best possible score would be 8. In this ranking, Canada scores 48, worst of the group. The U.S. scores 44. The best of the group is Denmark, at 20. Even if we were to concentrate on outcome indicators alone – greenhouse gasses, the two economic indicators and income distribution – Canada continues to rank at the bottom.

Let me be clear about what this evidence does and does not show. The evidence does not establish causation – that environmental taxation generates better economic and social outcomes. It does show, however, that environmental goals are achievable at the same time as economic and social goals. I believe that intelligently designed policies would let us realize the outcomes that economic theory predicts.

So, with due respect to Mr. Abbott and Mr. Harper, economic theory is alive and well, and there is evidence to back it up.


Job posting: Web Application Developer (PCIC)

Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (PCIC) is seeking to hire a Web Application Developer, Computational Support Team.

Closing Date: August 4, 2014

A link to the posting is at http://www.pacificclimate.org/about-pcic/careers.

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